THE CHURCH OF THE GASTRIA, SANJAKDAR MESJEDI
THIS mosque is situated in the quarter of Psamathia, at a short- distance to the north of the Armenian church of S. George (Soulou Monastir), which stands on the site of the Byzantine church of S. Mary Peribleptos. Paspates,1 who first recognized the Byzantine character of the edifice, regards it as the chapel attached to the convent of the Gastria (Mow) r&v TaarpLMVi ra TacrTpia, i.e. in the district of the Flowerpots). His reasons'for that opinion are : first, the building is situated in the district of Psamathia, where the convent of the Gastria stood ; secondly, it is in the neighbourhood of the Studion3 with which the convent of the Gastria was closely associated during the iconoclastic controversy; thirdly, the copious and perennial stream of water that flows through the grounds below the mosque would favour the existence of a flower-garden in this part of the city, and thus give occasion for the bestowal of the name Gastria upon the locality. The argument is by no means conclusive. A more fanciful explanation of the name of the district is given by Byzantine etymologists after their wont. According to them the name was due to the circumstance that the Empress Helena, upon her return from Jerusalem with her great discovery of the Holy Cross, disembarked at Psamathia, and having founded a convent there, adorned its garden with the pots (TO, yda-rp^a) of fragrant shrubs which accompanied the sacred tree on the voyage from Palestine.2 More sober historians ascribe the foundation of the convent to
1 P. 304.. 2 Banduri, iii. p. 54.